Women’s Naturopath Beth Bridges shares how balancing reproductive and stress hormones is a key factor in looking and feeling our happiest, healthiest selves.
Here, Beth talks signs of hormonal imbalance and shares her guide to hormonal health, so we can get beautiful from the inside out.
As a Naturopath, it’s pretty easy to tell how much vitality a person has by their ‘glow’ factor. Even with perfect makeup, it’s not hard to see when someone’s depleted or burnt out. When hormones are balanced and self-care needs are being met, a woman will exude an energy that’s beyond physicality. It’s an air of wellness, of respect for herself, of relaxed comfort; it’s beauty that emanates from the inside out.
Working exclusively with women, the most common troubles I encounter are those of hormonal imbalance. We tend to think of mood disturbances as the most common symptom of hormonal imbalance – as women, we’re renowned for our tears and irritability, as the dreaded PMS monster rears its ugly head each month.
However, hormonal imbalances are really at the root of so many factors when it comes to our health. They determine how we feel, how we look, how we act (and react) in the world on a day-to-day basis.
Common symptoms of hormonal imbalance include:
Hair loss in areas such as the scalp and/or eyebrows, OR excess hair growth in unusual areas such as the top of the lip
Skin troubles, most namely acne (though inflammatory conditions such as eczema and psoriasis are also flared by stress hormones)
Digestive complaints, such as irritable bowel syndrome
Chronic period pain
Reproductive conditions such as endometriosis and PCOS
Weight gain (even when you’re doing everything ‘right’)
Extreme fatigue and depletion
Insomnia, or inability to sleep restoratively
Some of these might be surprising. I often come across women who had no idea that certain signs and symptoms could be linked to their hormonal status. I’m a firm believer that by balancing your hormones – which for women, means both your reproductive hormones and your stress hormones – your body will exist, with ease, in its most beautiful and ideal state.
When your hormones are balanced, your skin will naturally be clear and glowing. Your eyes will be bright, because you’ll be sleeping restoratively, and waking up feeling energised. Your digestion will be calm, and you’ll actually utilize the nutrients from all those good foods you’re eating. You’ll rid yourself of PMS (which we’ve been tricked to believe is ‘normal’), and your period won’t have you curled in the foetal position each month.
And – this is the big one – your weight will stabilise, and your body will find it’s natural, ideal weight. Don’t underestimate the power of your hormones to cause you to hold weight in the places you don’t want it – they exert more power than anything else you can try in this area.
So, how to get our hormones back into balance? Firstly, you need to know what your hormonal picture is. I’d recommend talking to a natural healthcare professional, who has expertise in this area. Is it your stress hormones that need to be brought back to balance, so that in turn, your delicate reproductive hormones can follow suit? Is it more of an obscure hormonal profile that’s causing you to feel the way you are?
“I’m a firm believer that by balancing your reproductive and stress hormones your body will exist, with ease, in its most beautiful and ideal state.”
No matter what, every woman has a different hormonal status, and it’s important to know exactly what you’re dealing with and how to go about resolving any hormonal issues. Never ‘assume’ an issue when it comes to your hormones, because you could spend months or years addressing the wrong factors.
My general guidelines when it comes to hormonal health include:
Address the stress. The health of your nervous system and adrenal glands is absolutely integral when it comes to beauty from the inside out. Your stress hormones have the power to deplete every part of your health – and your physical appearance will reflect this.
Reduce caffeine and alcohol. Both of these substances are stimulants (increasing stress hormone production) and can wreak havoc with hormones.
Get rid of refined sugar. All of it.
Eat 100% more vegetables. Most people only get token amounts of vegetables into their daily meals. Vegetables should be falling off your plate! Stick to small amounts of the starchy ones, and big servings of steamed greens such as broccoli, zucchini, green beans, kale, spinach, and whatever else takes your fancy.
Boost the healthy fats. Omega 3 fish oil supplements (of the highest quality), coconut oil/coconut butter, ghee, organic butter, and extra virgin olive oil (not heated) are all fantastic for your hormones. Our body actually needs cholesterol from healthy sources, because it acts as a precursor for hormone synthesis. Steer clear of vegetable oils, canola oil, and margarine.
Consider your protein intake. We definitely need adequate protein for optimal hormone production. Animal proteins are absolutely fine (I changed my entire hormonal experience by re-including animal proteins in my diet) – but you need to choose high-quality, organic, grass-fed cuts.
Incorporate yoga into your life. Hands down, yoga healed my hormones many years ago. Yoga (including pranayama and meditation) is profoundly hormone-balancing, because it accesses the nervous system in a way that virtually nothing else can.
Getting your hormones back into balance will allow you to glow, in a truly effortless way. Making a commitment to hormonal balance is the easiest and least expensive way to achieve beauty from the inside out, for the rest of your life.